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How to Clean Up Vomit Fast (And Remove the Smell)

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Vomiting can unexpectedly happen to anyone; yourself, a kid, a pet, or anybody for whatever reason. Whether it is due to overeating, drinking, or sickness, the body can reach a point and fail to hold it anymore. And without any warning, out goes a gust of vomit.

When this happens, do not panic. Instead, follow the following tips to clean it up and remove the foul smell successfully.

  1. First, wear protective clothes like gloves and then scrape off the vomited matter on a cardboard or paper plate.
  2. Next, spread baking soda or any other absorbent substance on the surface and wait for 25 minutes before vacuuming.
  3. Finally, spray the area with a stain remover, blot it out, and thereafter spread more baking soda to kill the odor.

Cleaning Vomit From Any Surface

Cleaning vomit is not for the faint-hearted. But if it has happened, it has to be done and done fast. Depending on where it happens, vomit can stain and leave an odor that can be smelled from a mile away. Luckily it can be cleaned easily by following these steps.

Wear Protective Gear

The first step is to compose yourself. Most instances of vomiting induce despair and panic in the individual that has vomited or the person that cleans it up.

To start off, wear gloves and, if available, a face mask to protect yourself from possible infections. Be keen to keep away anything or anyone that may make the surface messier such as pets or children.

Scrape the Surface

Look for an object to scrape the solid vomit mass into. This could be cardboard, a piece of box, a paper plate, or anything that you can discard with the vomit.

Afterward, using a spatula, or any flat edge, scrape the vomit into this object and throw it into a trash can.

Spreading Sawdust on the Surface

Sawdust is especially useful when cleaning vomit on the naked floor. For cleaning vomits on upholstery and carpet, you can use baking soda and cornstarch as they are more absorbent. 

Moreover, they can access any nooks and crannies that the vomit might have seeped through. Keep in mind to spread a generous layer over the vomit, ensuring the whole vomit area is covered, including any splatter that bounced off the original spot. 

Allow the stain to rest for 25 to 30 minutes for maximum absorption of the wetness before heading over to the next step.

Do the Vacuuming

After 30 minutes, the majority of the vomit wetness will have been absorbed by the baking gunpowder or the sawdust. It is now time to vacuum-clean the spot by sucking up the sawdust vomit mixture.

Do this by setting the vacuum cleaner to the highest suction power setting and moving the vacuum cleaner nozzle to and fro over the vomit surface. 

If it is on a carpeted surface, place the vacuum nozzle, so it touches the carpet to suck deeper into the carpet.

For best results, spray the surface with a disinfectant soap solution to kill any germs and loosen vomit matter for easy suction. If satisfied with your cleaning result, empty the content of the vacuum cleaner into a plastic bag for safe disposal.  

Pretreat the Stain

Vomits stains contain proteins, gastric acids, colors, and other stubborn staining ingredients. So, you need a heavy-duty enzyme stain remover, although you can also make cleaning solutions at home.

Commercial stain removers can be readily bought online, in any home improvement store, or convenience store. 

One fantastic example is simple green enzyme cleaner and simple solution stain remover (paid links), which you can find on Amazon at a fantastic price. But in the absence of commercial varieties, here is how you can formulate yours at home using locally available materials. 

Make a solution of 2 cups warm water, ½ a cup white vinegar, two tablespoons each of dishwashing detergent, and rubbing alcohol. Stir well and put the solution in a hand sprayer.

More on how to mix detergent with other cleaning agents here.

Applying the Stain Remover

For either of the options above, spray a sufficient amount on the surface of the stain, not forgetting the splattered parts. If you do not have a hand sprayer, a piece of cloth or a sponge would also work. 

If you opt for a sponge or cloth, all you need to do is dip it into the stain-removing solution and squeeze off the excess solution and blot the stain. But watch out when cleaning carpets and upholstery to avoid oversaturation, and when blotting since this can breed molds and mildew.

Blot the Stain Intensively

With the sponge at your fingertips, tap vigorously on the entire stained area before squeezing out the absorbed liquid into the container. Repeat this process until the stain is sufficiently removed. 

Remember to avoid swabbing, or wiping since this will only make the stain messier and widen the size of the stain.

Be careful, especially with multicolored vomits, as their spread is tougher and more visible. Notably, unlike tiles and wooden surfaces, cleaning carpets, upholstery, and fabric surfaces are harder and may need several repetitions.

For washable garments, toss them in the washing machine and launder under the hottest temperature setting possible, rinse and dry.

Cleansing the Odor

Even after blotting out the stain, do not be surprised to have the spot producing a foul smell. If untreated, vomit odor can linger on for days afterward. To avoid this, follow the tips below. 

Sprinkle some baking soda and spread it over the stain immediately to allow the moist surface to soak the baking soda. For greater effect, place a piece of cloth and gently press it on top with your palm to accelerate odor absorption.

Then, wait for a minimum of 24 hours as the baking goes to work to remove the odor. Thereafter, check the removal of the odor by the appearance of the baking soda into solid clods and vacuum them.

Ventilate the Room or Car

Letting in fresh air is the best you can do at this point to dissipate any residue of foul odor and freshen the room. Optionally, you can buy fresheners or make homemade ones. 

Here’s a quick recipe for homemade fresheners: mix ½ cup of water with 20 drops of lavender essential oils, chamomile essential oil, and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. Then use a hand pump spray around the room to expunge the remaining smell.

Phew! You can heave a sigh of relief. The cleaning process might have been long, but you succeeded in restoring the room or the car interior to its original freshness. 

I also wrote guides on how to remove saliva stains from clothes, and how to clean up if you soiled yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Salt Prevent Vomiting?

According to health experts, electrolyte drinks have a strong ability to stop stomach upset, which is the cause of throwing up. To reduce the chances of vomiting, stir a quarter teaspoonful of salt and sip slowly, and the nausea will clear.

Is Vomit Stains Permanent?

Vomit stains can be permanent due to the presence of proteins and internal body secretions, acids, and colors that are known to cause stubborn stains. However, like most stains, the earlier you clean, the easier it is to remove. Furthermore, there are homemade solutions and store-bought enzyme detergents that remove vomit stains.

Can You Get Sick From Cleaning Vomits?

Cleaning vomit from a sick person can transfer the sickness to you. However, this also depends on the kind of sickness causing vomiting and whether it is infectious. But all this can be avoided by wearing protective gloves and masks when cleaning.


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